OAKLAND - Felix Doubront's return to the Red Sox rotation wasn't bad, but it sure didn't look good four batters in.
Doubront, making his first start for Boston since May 20 after a stint on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue, found himself trailing the Oakland A's 3-0 before the first inning was complete.
He yielded a leadoff single to Craig Gentry, who was then erased on a fielder's choice by Jed Lowrie, then walked Yoenis Cespedes.
Doubront then gave up a line shot that went out to left for a three-run homer to Josh Donaldson and it appeared as though his outing would be brief.
To his credit, however, Doubront got more outs in the first and pitched into the fifth inning without allowing another run, or, for that matter, another hit.
He got a no-decision in the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the A's.
"We got him to what we thought was comfortable pitch count (90),'' said John Farrell. "Unfortunately, that was only into the fifth inning. I thought he got a little stronger as the game went on, particularly with a better tempo and better rhythm. But in the fifth, with him getting to a (pitch limit) and the matchup (with righthander Derek Norris coming up and Burke Badenhop warming) was probably in our favor.
"But Felix went out and gave us what he could tonight. We saw some good stuff here tonight. There was some finish to some of his pitches, better than the last couple of starts he made for us. I thought he had decent rotation to his curveball. We've still got to continue to build.''
"I felt pretty good,'' said Doubront. "After the second inning, I was able to have a good feel for all my pitches. I thought I did a good job holding the score (early to 3-0), hoping we would score one more run to win the game. But that's baseball.''
Command was an issue at times, as Doubront walked four and hit another in 4 2/3 innings of work.
Doubront was happy with his curve, especially as the game went on.
"When I got ahead in the count,'' he said, "I was able to throw it two times in a row and get the hitter out. I just tried to get a feel for my mechanics and all my pitches.''
Despite the walks, Doubront thought he stayed within his delivery and maintained a consistent release point.
"There's a little adjustment that I have to do over the next five days to come back for my next start,'' said Doubront, "and do better.''
Of course, Doubront''s immediate future is somewhat unsettled, as the Red Sox try to figure out their rotation with Doubront returning and Clay Buchholz scheduled to do so in Seattle.
That could force both Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa out of the rotation, and perhaps, all the way back to Pawtucket.